Eye­ing off the big boys

Kia’s wannabe Cerato has much to like, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

IF YOU be­lieve the ad­ver­tis­ing on tele­vi­sion, one of Ger­many’s main car­mak­ers is run­ning scared of Kia. The South Kore­ans hope if you pick up hints, you will con­clude the com­pany in ques­tion is Audi. Or at least Volk­swa­gen.

But no one at Audi is los­ing sleep over the new Kia Cerato. And Volk­swa­gen bosses will prob­a­bly just chor­tle when they see the Kia com­mer­cial.

The Cerato is a nice car and a big ad­vance for Kia, but in no way could it be con­sid­ered a se­ri­ous ri­val to an Audi — or even Volk­swa­gen.

Nor is that a bad thing — or a big fail­ure.

The TV spot just proves Kia is shoot­ing high as it pushes to be­come more than just a Hyundai-style, cut­price South Korean brand.

The Cerato is a big change with a good-looking new body, a 2.0-litre en­gine which, it is claimed, sets the class mark for power and torque, and a five-year war­ranty that gives peo­ple the con­fi­dence to com­mit.

The new sedan is lower, longer and wider than the model it re­places. A five-door hatch is also due later this year.

A start­ing price of $18,990 also gives a kick in a class in which the Toy­ota Corolla, Ford Fo­cus and Honda Civic cost at least $1000 more, and Kia tips in elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, trac­tion con­trol, cruise con­trol and au­dio con­trols on the steer­ing wheel for an ex­tra $1000.

So the Cerato comes in be­low $20,000 with ev­ery­thing you re­ally need on a com­pact fam­ily car, un­less you have to spend the ex­tra $2000 on an au­to­matic gear­box.

The key to the Cerato — a name Kia says is here for the long term, af­ter a string of changes on its com­pact— is an ap­proach that gives the brand some pulling power in the show­room. And moves it far­ther from Hyundai, which owns the com­pany and pro­vides much of the Kia me­chan­i­cal pack­age.

Com­pared with the Hyundai Elantra, the Cerato is ahead in al­most ev­ery area and its start­ing price is lower. It’s also up and above the Nis­san Ti­ida, de­spite the Ja­panese car’s price be­ing steadily cut to now start at $18,490.

For now the new Cerato comes as a four-door sedan only, but there is plenty to like. For­mer Volk­swa­gen de­signer Peter Schreyer has brought a new de­sign di­rec­tion that gives it a classy look with a big cabin and a roomy boot.

The 2.0-litre en­gine has vari­able valve tim­ing for 115kW, a claimed 0-100km/h time of 10.5sec, and fuel use of 7.8 litres/100km. The list of stan­dard equip­ment is long, but the best news is six airbags — which Kia says is a first at the price.

The rest of the $18,990 pack runs to anti-skid brakes, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, air­con­di­tion­ing and a sound sys­tem with plug-ins for USB keys and iPods.

And there is al­ways that five-year war­ranty.

Mov­ing up:

Kia is shoot­ing high with the Cerato SLi as it pushes to be­come more than just a cut-price South Korean brand.

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